Today, a group of Democrat Members of Congress introduced the first COVID-19 related whistleblower bill since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. The COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act focuses on the misuse of federal monies being spent to combat the virus and its economic impact. It will also cover reports of “substantial and specific dangers to the public health and safety” in federally supported programs.
“This is a major step forward,” said Stephen M. Kohn, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center and a partner in the whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto. “The bill permits whistleblowers who suffer retaliation to report COVID-19 related violations and to file a case in federal court and obtain compensatory and exemplary damages. These are among some of the ‘best practices’ affirmed in the bill,” Kohn added.
“We hope that the Republican caucus will join in this reform effort and endorse strong protections for whistleblowers. Whistleblower protection is a bi-partisan issue and has historically enjoyed strong support from both Democrats and Republican,” Kohn added.
Among the features included in the whistleblower bill are:
3 year statute of limitations
No mandatory arbitration
An investigation by the Department of Labor
A right to have a case heard in federal court by a jury
A make whole remedy, including compensatory and exemplary damages and attorney fees
The right to file concerns confidentially
Whistleblowers will be protected if they raise their concerns before a wide range of bodies, including Congress and all state or federal regulatory or law enforcement agencies.
Ben Kostyack also contributed to this article.